2013 Year in Review

2013 has been a fantastic year, I’ve had a great time with this new blog while continuing posting over at my blog for writers, My Literary Quest.

Here are the most popular posts from this blog this year:

spongebobEverything I need to know about life I learned from Spongebob – As with most popular memes, this post was inspired by a random spur of the moment idea.  School was out for my kiddos and I’d overindulged with them on Spongebob. While watching the thought struck me that the show has a lot of positive ideas.

summer 13 giveaway hop[1][1]Summer Giveaway Hop 2013 – It’s not surprising that this post got a lot of hits, as part of a one of the biggest author hops and including a free giveaway  there was good incentive to drop by.    I had fun being a part of the hop and I am considering doing it again, although I might wait until I have a book to offer.

alfie01The Search is Over – Back in the beginning of the year I had a series of posts introducing my cast of characters.  In this post I introduced Jarand, one of the protagonists, and compared him to the popular tenor Alfie Boe. To my surprise the Alfie Boe fan club dropped by and said hello!

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While I would love to say I’m happy with my current traffic, it’s really quite puny.  I guess that’s what I get for not posting as often and not having a strong platform.  The biggest problem is that I really don’t know what to say here.  I don’t have that regular news about the current book I’m working on that I’m willing to share, yet. And I haven’t published yet so I can’t really post updates about that either.

One of my goals for 2014 is to find a better focus for this blog and then reach out to that audience and bring them in.  I’d love this blog to serve as a brilliant way of attracting fans to my writing.  Hey, a girl can dream right?

Here’s to another great year of blogging!

Back to Business

The month of November seemed to fly by faster than normal, there was way too much going on and not nearly enough time for any of it.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and three birthdays.  Then there was the decorating and the cooking and the other dozens of things needed to prepare for the holidays.

As for NaNoWriMo, my rebel project hit a wall at the 15,000 word mark when I realized that I had a major plotting issue.  I call it my rebel project because instead of writing a new piece of fiction I chose to put the polish on the book I’ve been fighting to finish.

The problem goes something like this – everything was fine with the story, but it needed something to give it a little oomph.  To do this, I combined the roles of a more minor character with a main character.  This made so much sense in the planning phase and I was really excited at the different possibilities it offered.  Now I can have a love triangle along with all the action and adventure.

However, as I began my revisions and started changing that character to fit both roles I had a terrible realization.  I need him to be a part of a mini quest with another character but I had neglected to figure out how he gets involved with that character in the first place. They are not an obvious pair, and for the life of me I have yet to find a great way to get them to work together.

So, I shelved my revisions until I could find a way to fix this problem it out and started a crochet project instead.  This is avoidance behavior at its finest.  Now that I’ve taken a break and let the problem stew for a while I think I’ve found a way to fix it.  I’ll need to write it out and see if it will work.

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My new pair of slippers, I love the flowers!

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A cozy tam for the colder weather

On a happy note, I did manage to finish and package up a short science fiction story for submission to a few magazines. I’m crossing my fingers that all goes well, this is my first time submitting to a professional market that isn’t a contest.  If all goes well, I plan on doing more short stories for magazines. ‘

For the month of December I plan to pick up the manuscript once again, fix the plotting problem and continue revisions.  I would still love to finish this round by the end of the year, but it looks like it might take a bit longer.

Announcing a Brief Hiatus

For the month of November I’m planning on digging into my manuscript and giving it a good polish, my goal is to have it ready to be reader tested by the new year.  Because of this I’m going to be taking a short break from article blogging both here and at my other blog, My Literary Quest.  There might be an occasional update or guest post, but other than that I’m putting all my writing energy into my book.

Until then!  Happy Writing!

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There might be a few elephant pictures as well!

 

Waiting for Perspective

I am now two weeks into a self imposed six week break away from my manuscript and random scenes and characters are still wandering through my head.  Taking a break between drafts is important because it helps me regain needed perspective and distance. While writing I get too close to the story and can no longer see what’s on the page as compared to what’s in my head.  The best way to overcome this is time away.

800px-Sharpened_PencilTaking a break doesn’t come without a downside. The other night one of my characters brought up a plot error, an action that didn’t make sense for the character in question. I wanted him to be wrong and ignore the problem but he wouldn’t let me alone. I didn’t pull out the manuscript, I know that’s what he wanted, so over the course of the day I mentally worked over the problem until something clicked. If I didn’t, I know he wouldn’t let me sleep.

Even with random characters haunting my steps, being away from the book has been a welcome change. I’ve finally had the time to work on some of my smaller projects and see progress there. The one short story I’ve been editing is only a few pages from turning itself into a novella if I’m not careful. My goal is to have it finished and submitted to a few markets for publication before I return to work on the book. 

For the next four weeks I’m looking forward to continuing work on my short stories and taking a bit of a break before diving back into the gritty process of refining and editing the manuscript. After this draft it will be ready for beta readers! As much as if terrifies me, I’m looking forward to getting some real world feedback.

Retreat!

This weekend I attended my first ever writer’s retreat high up in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. For the first time in years I had hours of uninterrupted time to sit and work on my book.   It came at a great time as well, for the past few weeks I’ve whittled away at the final scenes and not made any progress. Being away from my crazy normal life gave me a chance to clear my head and think through the different emotions and images that have eluded me.  Now I just have one concluding scene, and this draft is finally done!

Not only was this my first retreat, but I was also on the committee.  If fact if I hadn’t been, I probably wouldn’t have been able to justify going. Having invested many hours organizing and finding answers to questions, I was all the more committed to make this retreat a success.  It turned out fabulous, if I do say so myself.  Everyone seemed happy, the food was wonderful, there was plenty of free time to write and to spend time chatting with fellow writers.

There really is nothing like being around people who share the same passion.  It creates a closeness that’s almost impossible to find anywhere else.  Working together to make each other’s writing better and sharing ideas creates bonds of friendship that last.

I give out a huge thanks to those who made it possible and our awesome speakers who shared wonderful insights into their writing and the craft itself.  Working with and getting to know these wonderful women has been a delight.

The retreat has recharged my creative batteries and I feel ready to tackle my writing projects once again!

Retreat photo

Writing Update – July

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As expected, July turned out to be hot and busy. Between plenty of family activities and long days home with kids, it was hard to consistently find time to work on my book.  Even with these challenges the word count rose from around 57,500 words to 72,000 words – a net increase of 14,500 words or about 60 pages, and that deserves a happy dance all around. A good part of these words were salvaged from an earlier draft and edited to fit the new needs of the current draft. The rest are new scenes written to round out the story.

These pages contain both the action climax and the emotional climax of the book, and have been a bear to work on. I owe my family an apology for the days I was mentally withdrawn as I worked through some of the emotions myself.  Part of me feels bad about what happens to my characters, I have put them through the wringer and there’s not much I’ve given them as a reward.  During future editing I’m going to have to make sure that the payout for completing their quest is enough or my readers might end up throwing the book against a wall. 

I’m excited to have reached this point in writing Stonebearer’s Betrayal. At this pace, I should finish this draft during the month of August and be that much closer to publication. After this, I’ll begin the more detailed and painstaking work of filing down the rough edges and filling in gaps and holes, of which I already know there are many.  

Between this draft and the next, I’m looking forward to taking a break for a few weeks and working on some short fiction to submit to magazines and contests.  I’ve collected a few fun ideas that I hope will turn into some great fiction.  

Until next month,  happy writing!

Writing Update – June

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June marked the start of summer vacation for the kids and a lot less undisturbed time for me.  It felt I spent most of the month spent finding balance between housework,  playing with the kids, and finding time for me to continue working on my story. Still, I ended the month with the manuscript heavier by a surprising additional 22,000 words, bringing the total to about 57,500 words. Even with challenges, I managed to crank through roughly 88 pages.  I’m thrilled.

At last I feel like I’m making some real progress.  For the longest time  I wasn’t sure about where the story needed to go or how to get it there. Now, with this month’s work, the story and it’s characters are gaining momentum and I can see where it needs to go.

Writing a first novel is much harder than it looks, you are not only discovering your characters and the story, but you are also discovering yourself as a writer.  It’s taken years to find what techniques work best for me.  Looking back the solution seems obvious now.  If I could have figured out my style of working earlier I could have saved myself a huge amount of time.

Along with the progress made on the manuscript, June marks the first time I’ve received a formal rejection letter for a short story submitted to a contest.  Although I would have loved it if my story were accepted, receiving a rejection is a milestone every writer must face.  Having one says I’m submitting and putting my work out there.  It won’t be the last rejection letter I receive and in time there will be acceptances as well.

I’m looking forward to July with its heat and long days.  If I can make the same amount of progress that I did in June then I’m on track for finishing this draft by the end of summer.  After that, the bulk of the work is done and I can start focusing on detail work and really making it shine.

I can’t wait.